Calibrated to tech specifications

Tailor your maintenance plans and procedures to your audience's level of experience and comprehension.

By Stephen Cooper, JEA, Northside Generating Station

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In brief:

  • A maintenance plan can be calibrated to your company’s typical maintenance technician.
  • When writing a maintenance plan, you should be looking at experience, reading level, criticality of equipment, criticality of maintenance task, complexity of procedure, complexity of equipment, interaction with other crafts, and proprietary information from OEM.

Calibrate [kal-uh-breyt]: To plan or devise something carefully so as to have a precise use, application, appeal.

A maintenance plan can be calibrated to your company’s typical maintenance technician. Who is writing your maintenance plans? Engineers? Maintenance planner/schedulers? Maintenance supervisors? Maintenance technicians?

Whoever is writing your maintenance plans should consider that each written plan represents a significant investment of your company’s dollars. It will take an average of two to four hours to write the typical maintenance plan. If your planners make $35/hr with benefits, that will equate to $40-$50/hr, which means your company has invested between $80 and $200 in that maintenance plan. At JEA’s Northside Generating Station (NGS), we have more than 7,000 maintenance plans in our Maximo job plan library. That means we have invested more than $1 million writing, developing and maintaining our job plan library.

What should you consider when writing a maintenance plan? At a minimum, you should be looking at experience, reading level, criticality of equipment, criticality of maintenance task, complexity of procedure, complexity of equipment, interaction with other crafts, and proprietary information from OEM.

Experience

Figure 1. The retiring workforce will be replaced by younger workers, but don’t assume they’re all rookies. Young Tyler has had a set of tools for more than two years and knows all about operating lathes, drill presses, impact wrenches, and hammers.
Figure 1. The retiring workforce will be replaced by younger workers, but don’t assume they’re all rookies. Young Tyler has had a set of tools for more than two years and knows all about operating lathes, drill presses, impact wrenches, and hammers.

One key fact needs to be considered when writing your maintenance plans today. Those plans will be used for the next four to five years. What is happening right now with the maintenance workforce? According to the Pew Research Center, more than 3 million Baby Boomers will be reaching age 65 every year for the next 19 years. Many of those will be retiring from the workforce. That means that the audience for your maintenance plans written today may not be the same faces that you know today (Figure 1)

Reading level

A 2010 report by The Education Trust found that 23% of recent high school graduates don't get the minimum score needed on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military. Questions are often basic, such as: "If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?"

The military exam results are also worrisome because the test is given to a limited pool of people. Pentagon data shows that 75% of individuals from 17 to 24 don't even qualify to take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record, or didn't graduate high school.

What this means to the maintenance plan and procedure writers is they often may need to avoid some of the technical terms or explain their meaning in the body of the document. Also, do not assume that the reader possesses basic math skills, particularly if you are asking him or her to calculate angles or do complicated unit conversions. Tailoring the plan or procedure to the eighth- or ninth-grade reading level will ensure that the reader will be able to comprehend the content.

Criticality of equipment

Any number of conditions or plant configurations can make a piece of equipment critical to the business and therefore in need of more careful and more detailed treatment in a maintenance plan or procedure.

Any vessel designed to contain high pressure, high temperature, or hazardous fluid or gas should be treated as a critical piece of equipment. Send the procedure to the engineering department for review against codes that address the particular fluid, gas, or hazardous material. The codes to consider include but are not limited to American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code 2010 Edition; Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) Technical Manual Section IV: Chapter 3; American National Standards Institute/National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors ANSI/NBBPVI NB23-2011 National Board Inspection Code — NBIC, 2011 Edition (Three Volumes); and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — more than 300 sets of codes and standards that deal with fire protection and prevention.

Every manufacturing and production facility in the United States is subject to being permitted by and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has developed and issued a number of policy and guidance documents to help with the implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), the Clean Water Act, Section 404, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. If your facility utilizes groundwater or surface water in the production process or discharges any liquid onto the ground or into a stream, lake, ocean, or river, it is likely to be subject to one or more of the above regulatory constituents.

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